Democrats rethinking “blame Bush” strategy after Massachusetts flop

posted at 8:48 am on January 25, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

Democrats have gotten into the habit of running against George W. Bush.  They won majorities in both houses of Congress in 2006 by running against Bush, and won a presidential election in 2008 with that strategy despite the fact that Bush wasn’t able to run.  Barack Obama has spent most of the past year blaming his own ineffectiveness on his predecessor.  So when the special election to replace Ted Kennedy got unexpectedly tight, Democrats figured that a healthy dose of Boogeyman Bush would send Democrats flocking to the polls.  Instead, it demonstrated the emptiness of Democratic arguments for leadership:

After three consecutive losses in statewide races, some top Democrats are questioning a tactic aimed at boosting the party’s candidates in each of those contests: Bush-bashing. …

Yet when Democratic nominees for governor in Virginia and New Jersey and for Senate in Massachusetts sought to tie their GOP opponents to the still-unpopular former president, the strategy didn’t resonate. Voters were more focused on the current administration or local political issues — and the onetime Democratic magic formula seemed yesterday’s news.

“Voters are pretty tired of the blame game,” said longtime Democratic strategist Steve Hildebrand, a top aide on Obama’s presidential campaign. “What a stupid strategy that was.” …

Another well-respected Democratic consultant put it simply: “Need a new game plan!”

Have they learned a lesson?  Well, perhaps partly.  Democratic leadership now thinks that they can play the Bush card effectively in races where there is actually a connection to Bush — for instance in Ohio, where former Bush budget director Rob Portman will run for the Senate.  The only problem there is that Ohioans know Portman worked for Bush, and so far, he’s still beating both leading Democrats in polls of likely voters.  Democrats think they can play the Bush card on Roy Blunt for being the Republican whip during the Bush years, but the Missouri voters know Blunt even better than Ohioans know Portman, and Blunt has moved ahead of Robin Carnahan in polling as well.

While the Democrats desperately keep hold of their favorite cartoon villain, who is as relevant to American politics now as Bill Clinton, Republicans have Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama — and that’s going to be much more likely to resonate with voters in 2010.  The midterms will be a referendum on both politicians and the radical direction of their leadership and agenda.  Which will voters care about more — a former President who has no impact on the political agenda of the federal government, or the two people who attempted to conduct a takeover of 1/6th of the American economy while ignoring the loss of 3.4 million jobs?

The irony of this sudden and partial epiphany is that it comes as the Democrats (and perhaps the White House) launched a wave of Ellie Light astroturfing that features — you guessed it — a blame-Bush theme.  They have armies of apparently brain-dead minions sending duplicate “letters to the editor” to newspapers around the country in order to spread their propaganda, and now they look both foolish and desperate after being so uncreatively obvious about it.  If Democrats change strategy now, it will be their Ellie Light astroturfers who will be hardest hit … except, perhaps, their candidates.


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Comment pages: 1 2

People in general don’t like those that won’t accept responsibility and use others as an excuse for failure.
Obama and Co. were just bragging a couple of months ago how brilliant they have been on the economy and now they cry about W’s policies? Pathetic- the behavior of an 8 year old.
It is obvious to a lot of voters that they are unserious people not fit to govern this country.

jjshaka on January 25, 2010 at 11:13 AM

You’re forgetting that Scott Brown did a good job of hitting Coakley on that during the debates:

“You can run against Bush-Cheney, but I’m Scott Brown. I live in Wrentham. I drive a truck.’

Roxeanne de Luca on January 25, 2010 at 11:13 AM

So how many times will GW be blamed by TOTUS during the SOTU address this week? Inquiring minds want to know.

chemman on January 25, 2010 at 11:18 AM

The Democraps biggest problem is if they drop the blame Bush retoric,they have nothing to say,and no platform to run on.Or,as Bambi would say,no pillars to build a foundation on.

DDT on January 25, 2010 at 11:24 AM

You mean the dems can’t keep beating that dead horse for eternity? Who would have thought the American people would move on while the dems stand still?

TQM38a on January 25, 2010 at 11:28 AM

No, I don’t miss Bush. His last year in office disgusted me. He had a chance for a series of historic and crucial valedictory decisions on the economy and on the political degradation brought on by the rise of the Left under his presidency (a greater immediate threat to our nation than radical Islam), but failed. Utterly. In the case of the economy, he turned wormily toward bailouts, effectively giving political cover to the socialist wave of Obama. He could have defended and reinvigorated the principles of the free market. Instead, he acquiesced to GOP wormtongues and other enablers of government paternalism.

As to rise of the Left, his last year was nothing more than the previous seven: silence and acceptance. He said nothing as the Left finished the trashing of his presidency, and by extension, our country. He never understood the Left, and never learned. But additionally he was so caught up in some kind of warped zeal of turn-the-other-cheek passivity when it came to fighting back at his political enemies that he abandoned us all to their furies.

No more “compassionate conservatives.” No more dupes to sham “bipartisanship.” No more self-doubting self-loathing RINOs. No more Bushes.

rrpjr on January 25, 2010 at 11:31 AM

James Carville is saying just the opposite.

madmonkphotog on January 25, 2010 at 11:38 AM

The Dems are finding that their blame-game is as useless as the foot-stomping “NO”-ism of their opponents. And its about **** time!

Dark-Star on January 25, 2010 at 11:44 AM

When your only tool is a hammer all your problems look like nails. Of course, Bush will be blamed in the State of the Union address and, of course, there will be a new “jobs” prgram announced. It’s what Obama does. It’s all he does.

Fred 2 on January 25, 2010 at 11:47 AM

The Constitution doesn’t have an article that says this is a representative form of government unless representatives know better than the people. There’s The Constitution on one hand, and the expedient rationalizations for the left’s agenda promoting statism in the other hand. Deal me into The Constitutional
hand and jail the traitors on the left, as they will relentlessly keep on with “the peoples business” that the people don’t want. It’s what they do. That and lie continuously.

ontherocks on January 25, 2010 at 12:05 PM

***
George Bush 43 unemployment=5 percent.
Comrade Obama (PBUH) unemployment=10 percent.
***
George Bush 43 Jihadi plan=GITMO and tribunals.
Comrade Obama (PBUH) Jihadi plan=Miranda rights and civilian trial.
***
Clear enough for the Average (unemployed) Bear. Let’s see you spin this.
***

rocketman on January 25, 2010 at 12:13 PM

poor Ellie Light

John the Libertarian on January 25, 2010 at 12:18 PM

They won majorities in both houses of Congress in 2006 by running against Bush and nominating a white guilt candidate, and won a presidential election in 2008 with that strategy despite the fact that Bush wasn’t able to run.

FIFY

DethMetalCookieMonst on January 25, 2010 at 12:18 PM

We miss GW Bush, he kept us safe for 7 years, the economy was
going strong until Congress was taken over by the Libs. Most folks seem to forget all this…Go figure.

GW’s faith in God was his strength, he was not perfect, but
he had core beliefs and good direction for the most part which
was a blessing to the US.

History will be kind to GW…..not to the folks who voted
Obama into office.

GW has always been vindicated by events. Bush bashers always
end up with egg on their faces on way or another.

dec5 on January 25, 2010 at 12:38 PM

dec5 on January 25, 2010 at 12:38 PM

Excellent.

And what happened to the Left’s moaning about our not capturing OBL? Oh yes, he is irrevalent now. I heard a major media source mention that. Strange…strange, how we never considered that when President Bush was in office.

IlikedAUH2O on January 25, 2010 at 1:00 PM

On Schedule. In January 2009 I predicted that the majority of Americans would be pining for Bush after 18 months of Obama.

Basilsbest on January 25, 2010 at 1:25 PM

Blaming Bush energizes the liberal base. It’s better to have an energized base than a lethargic base. Indepenents will come around, they just need “more cowbell.”

olesparkie on January 25, 2010 at 1:32 PM

rrpjr on January 25, 2010 at 11:31 AM

F for your Bush bashing.

You ignore the fact that Congress has been controlled by Democrats since 2006; that Bush had the media against him from day 1 and impatient people like you against him from day 2.

And yes, Bush was a very poor communicator, but he did wonders considering the opposition from liberals and lack of support from conservatives.

Basilsbest on January 25, 2010 at 1:34 PM

On Schedule. In January 2009 I predicted that the majority of Americans would be pining for Bush after 18 months of Obama.

Basilsbest on January 25, 2010 at 1:25 PM

Count me as a piner! I was tired of Bush. The founders were pretty smart to know that four year terms would be just about right… but now!

Remember how things got done under Bush? Remember how you always knew he would make sure the economy didn’t collapse? Remember… remember… it was so much better with a honest man in charge of our government.

I miss Cheney too! I’m probably one of only a few who think Cheney was really funny. All that bunker stuff… and his sly grin.

I miss good management. I miss it bad.

And I miss Laura.

petunia on January 25, 2010 at 1:47 PM

I feel both parties have this tendancy. When the next elections come around the GOP will be running against Obama. Like we ran against Clinton. It is a short haded way of explaining dems. It’s like listening to Hannity blurt out talking points as if the very mention of the talking points wins and ends the debate.
What I would like to have happen and I feel we still have time to resist the trap, would be to run our campaign against the ideas the dem party holds. Not only would it make it easier to nationalize the election again but would force the dems to defend their ideals. Especially since they are on full display this past year

lwssdd on January 25, 2010 at 2:35 PM

So how many times will GW be blamed by TOTUS during the SOTU address this week? Inquiring minds want to know.

chemman on January 25, 2010 at 11:18 AM

SOTU Drinking Game?

Del Dolemonte on January 25, 2010 at 2:53 PM

It’s always about games with Democrats never about effective and cohesive political and economic policy. So sad.

Sultry Beauty on January 25, 2010 at 2:54 PM

James Carville is saying just the opposite.

madmonkphotog on January 25, 2010 at 11:38 AM

And God bless Mary Matalin.

gryphon202 on January 25, 2010 at 3:08 PM

The Dems are finding that their blame-game is as useless as the foot-stomping “NO”-ism of their opponents. And its about **** time!

Dark-Star on January 25, 2010 at 11:44 AM

It’s amazing how frequently the liberals try to trot out this lie.

When the Democrats locked the Republicans out of all negotiations, they gave the Republicans too options. Say yes to what the Democrats were doing. Or reject it by saying no.

Considering the fact that the nation as a whole has been yelling NO for the last 6 months, the Republicans, for once, selected the correct option.

MarkTheGreat on January 25, 2010 at 3:13 PM

They can’t deny that the debt has tripled in one year since Obama. The Democrats might be serving up some bad, bad food right now. . . . but let’s face it: Bush and the republicans set the table. I’m a conservative and you have to call a spade a spade here. There are a lot of republicans in the house and senate who need to retire and go home too.

kens on January 25, 2010 at 4:46 PM

rrpjr on January 25, 2010 at 11:31 AM

Absolutely, right on. Couldn’t have said it better myself. I am glad we had Bush for the national security issues, but the compassionate conservatism was a total loser. Didn’t need him if we already had the demoncrats.

outnumberedinparadise on January 25, 2010 at 5:33 PM

F for your Bush bashing.

You ignore the fact that Congress has been controlled by Democrats since 2006; that Bush had the media against him from day 1 and impatient people like you against him from day 2.

And yes, Bush was a very poor communicator, but he did wonders considering the opposition from liberals and lack of support from conservatives.

Basilsbest on January 25, 2010 at 1:34 PM

Basil, All you say is true, however, it was Bush’s weakness/losing strategy to stay silent instead of explaining why he did what he did or show the backbone that he obviously has and respond to the lies and distortions. By remaining silent he allowed the liberals and state-run media to control his entire presidency.

outnumberedinparadise on January 25, 2010 at 5:38 PM

Have they learned a lesson?

When all else fails Ed, bribe the middle class.

BDU-33 on January 25, 2010 at 5:51 PM

Iwssdd: I agree, but I think that’s what the tea party is about. Our rejection is about the right and left’s ideas. The RHINOS are just carriers of the democrats’ ideas watered down, if you will. The republicans make a mistake by thinking Brown’s win was about turning the tide for them. People are tired of the business as usual on both sides.

texanpride on January 25, 2010 at 6:56 PM

Rep candidate to Rat candidate: You want to tie me to Bush? Well I’m gonna tie you to Obama, Reid, Pelosi, ObamaCare, Porkulus, Cap and Tax, card check, auto bailouts, Copenhagen, Copenhagen again, etc., etc., and on and on ad infinitum…

2ipa on January 25, 2010 at 7:53 PM

Democrats rethinking “blame Bush” strategy after Massachusetts flop

No sh!t, Sherlock! :D

JimC on January 26, 2010 at 2:10 AM

Comment pages: 1 2